Practicing Islam in America

By wael | April 26, 2003
April 2003

Practicing Islam in America

by Shezena T. Mohammed

Some people grimace at the thought of young Muslims being a part of Western culture. But we are. Just growing up here, we cannot help but be a part of this culture. It is ingrained in us just as any other culture is ingrained in any other person, and I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing.

There are, of course, bad aspects to Western culture just as there are bad aspects to any culture, but there is no reason that we wouldn’t be able to get through them just as we would any other problem. I am sure that anywhere you go, you would be tempted to do haram things. The West may just have different kinds of tests and problems that we have to get through.

Born in Queen, New York

People say that you should move to a Muslim country as soon as you can, because this country (America) is bad for Muslims, but if all you have ever known is Queens, New York, then what are you supposed to do? I was born in Queens and as unpopular as this may sound I love this country. I know that there are a lot of bad things here but here we have a choice to be as good as we want to be or as bad. From what I understand choice is not something that many people in Muslim countries have. If you are forced to wear hijab or to pray then are you really practicing Islam? Or are you just going along with what everybody else is doing? In America we practice Islam because we want to, because it is in our hearts. Here I can take off my hijab and no one would care, but I choose to wear it for the sake of Allah SWT. Some people behave as though the very act of being American is haram.

Do What You Know is Right

Being Muslim in America is hard enough without everyone always trying to convince you that everything is haram, or on the other hand that everything is acceptable. I have even heard people go so far as to say that fun is haram. Fun? I don’t remember ever seeing any hadiths or in the Qur’an anywhere that fun is haram. Trying to label everything as haram without critically looking at it first is just not reasonable. On the same note, trying to make things that are haram okay, in my view, is even worse. I live in Florida now, and one time a Muslim woman came up to my mother and me and explained to us that we don’t have to wear hijab in Florida, because it gets too hot. It does get pretty hot here in Florida, but I think that maybe when is it so hot that our hijabs will burst into flames and burn right off of our skin, we might consider taking them off, but until then, we’ll keep them on. She said an Imam told her that, and I can believe that. The Prophet did say make things easy for people but we still need to follow Islam.

On the other hand, once in a Masjid that I attended, my mother and I had to talk to the Imam, and he actually told us that we shouldn’t wear hijab just for fashion, but for Allah SWT. I personally have never seen anyone wear hijab as a fashion, or would think that they would be wearing it for that reason, but I don’t know. Maybe it’s a new craze I don’t know about to wear scarves over your head and cloaks over your bodies in 100 degree weather. There are a lot of conflicting messages out there, but you need to do what you know is right.

It Takes Strength

It is widely thought that it is impossible to be a good Muslim and live in America. I believe that it is difficult but in America if you choose to follow Islam you have to be stronger than if you live in a Muslim country. I think that it is easy to go along with what everyone else is doing be it in America or in a Muslim country. It takes a strong person to practice Islam. But it takes an even stronger person to practice Islam in a place where nobody else does. We have an innate need to belong, to be part of what is around us and when we are Muslim we cannot partake in everything we see. But we choose this for the sake of Allah SWT. It may be difficult but we Muslims practicing Islam in America can help change it for the better.

2 Responses to “Practicing Islam in America”

  1. nour musleemah Says:
    October 16th, 2010 at 4:08 am

    subhanALLAH. what an amazing words from an amazing musleemah. i’m truly elated to have found this kind of article. i do really love it. great job ukhti even though ur article was posted years back. but honestly, the words of islam, words of heejab wouldn’t make it look rusted. may ALLAH be with u always ukhti in showering u with HIS love. i would love to share ur article with my friends here in singapore. indeed, we’ve experienced the same thing. ((=

  2. afghangirl98 Says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 5:33 pm

    I am a Muslim Girl, born in America. In Islam, a young girl such as a teenage should wear proper clothes & never dress bad. Today, my baba & I went to 6 different stores, to find me a capri that is longer then my knees, and not short to show anything. ALL OF THESE DIFFERENT STORES CARRIED ALL SHORT SHORTS, NOT LONG CAPRIS FOR MUSLIM GIRLS. In America, you cant always find wht u expect. It may be hard growing up as a Muslim Girl in AMERICA!! because many other pple may not understand ur culture and how a teenage muslim dress to fit the American Culture, AND Islam at the same time. And yes, yes it may be VERY hard not to follow what a Muslim Girl wants in America, but think about this:
    Were u born a Muslim?
    Or were u born to follow pple’s wrong path?

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